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Review: Generation Utøya (2021)

Generation Utøya


Hey there, time to get up and change the world.

In 22 July 2011, the world was shocked when one of the safest countries in the world was attacked and 77 people were killed. Anders Behring Breivik was the perpetrator of the domestic terrorist attacks against the government, more specifically against the Labour Party. The two sequential incidents were a car bomb explosion in Oslo within Regjeringskvartale, resulting in eight people killed and 209 people injured, followed two hours later by an attack at a summer camp (organized by the AUF, the youth division of the ruling Norwegian Labour Party) on the island of Utøya in Tyrifjorden, Viken, killing 69 people.

The attacks were the deadliest in Norway since World War II, the fifth deadliest terrestrial terrorist attack in Western Europe and the shooting at Utøya remains the deadliest mass shooting by a lone perpetrator in History.

Almost 10 years after of one the darkest days in Norway, filmmakers Aslaug Holm (Brothers) and and Sigve Endresen (Thelma, Living Amongst Lions) decided to explore the people and values that were targeted. Thus, Generation Utøya, with the production of Fenris Film, is marking its presence in the upcoming Hot Docs 2021 Festival in Toronto, Canada. In this documentary we follow, for a full year, the lives of four women (Renate, Kamzy, Line and Ina), politically active and all survivors of Utøya. The film is not only a portrayal of the mental struggle of the victims, but also about the resilience of the four women, which after all they went through continued to work and fight for their political ideals.

Life is an adventure.

Generation Utøya

Generation Utøya managed to be an intimate film with each of the women speaking their truths and at the same time we are faced with the local rise of the right-wing extremism in Norway, resembling to what is happening in Europe and in the EUA. The documentary is at his best when it compares the present reality as a repetition to the 20s rise of fascism and how it echoes the today problems in Norway, with right-wing parties and the propagation of fear, exclusion, rise in blind nationalism and violence, with events all around the world, such as in Poland and in Trump’s EUA.

Line is our route to the seriousness of PTSD and to how the aftermath of traumatic events can extend for so long and affect someone’s life even after 8 years. As to Ina and Kamzy they highlight the importance of their political activities to preserve both AUF as well as traditionally European democratic and humanitarian ideals.

Although Generation Utøya tries not to be a propaganda movie, sometimes there is a feeling of too much compliance with the Labour Party, leading to a certain bias. Moreover, for people not living in Norway and for people that do not quite remember all the elements of the attack of 22 July 2011, the film should have wasted more time summarizing and contextualizing different points along the narrative. In sum, is an excellent movie to the elements of the Labour Party, a good movie to Norwegians, but a somewhat confused movie to the rest of the audience.

Generation Utøya also suffers some limitations due to the existence of previous movies focused on the terrorist attack, such as Rekonstruktion Utøya (2018) and Utøya 22. Juli (2018), which compel to more original and alternative points of view.

What would Beyoncé do?

Generation Utøya

Generation Utøya remind us of the dramatic events of 22 July 2011 in Norway, shows us Utøya as a symbol of democratic and humanitarian ideals, explores the resilience of the four women survivors (and politically active), and also warns to what the pervasive right-wing extremism may unleash in the future, and the bravery of these women will forever be remembered.

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Title: Generation Utøya

Original Title: Generasjon Utøya

Director: Aslaug Holm and Sigve Endresen

Runtime: 90 min.

TRAILER | Generation Utøya